GW rose three spots on this year’s Peace Corps list of colleges and universities that produce the most volunteers for the service organization, ranking 22nd with 36 graduates actively serving overseas.
The list, released last month, ranked the schools by the number of students entering the organization this year. The University of Wisconsin-Madison topped the list for the third consecutive year, placing 93 students into the program. The University of Colorado and the University of California-Berkley rounded out the top three.
GW is one of 11 universities in the country that offers a Peace Corps fellowship. The Peace Corps Fellows/USA Program is a two-year master’s degree program designed for returning Peace Corps volunteers. It allows students to earn a teaching degree from GW’s Graduate School of Education and Human Development, designed to specifically prepare them to work in urban schools.
“The people that come back from the Peace Corps experience are highly motivated, creative and very resourceful,” said Juilana Taymans, a co-principle investigator for the program and a professor of special education at GW. “They bring multicultural cross-cultural skills, and they know how to understand a variety of different cultures, which is important in our increasingly multicultural country.”
Taymans said the GW fellowship program, one of the first of its kind, draws candidates from across the country.
“It is a difficult adjustment for some folks coming back from the Peace Corps and teaching here,” she said. “In other countries it is a privilege to go to school, and the students will do whatever the teacher says. It is somewhat different here.”
GW’s School of Public Health and Health Services also offers an integrated Peace Corps program, called the Masters Internationalist program. In the program the Peace Corps assigns students as health volunteers for a two years at various locations in addition to studying public health.
Established in 1961 by President Kennedy, the Peace Corps has sent more than 161,000 trained volunteers to 134 countries, according to the Corps Web site. More than 7,300 volunteers and trainees – the highest amount in 26 years – are currently serving in 78 countries around the world.